Glossary of terms

26-Counties: The term used by republicans to describe the territory officially known as the Republic of Ireland which includes 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties.

Abstentionism: In politics, the refusal by elected representatives to take their seats as a form of protest.

Apprentice Boys: The Protestant organisation named after thirteen young apprentices whose shutting of the city’s gates on 7 December 1688 prevented the forces of the deposed Catholic king of England James II from entering the city. The siege of the city which later ensued saw those residents loyal to James’s Protestant successor on the English throne, William of Orange, withstand 105 days of starvation and bombardment before James’s forces finally withdrew in July 1689. Whilst Protestant unionists regarded Williamite victories in Derry and other events, such as the Battle of the Boyne (1690), as protecting their civil and religious liberties, the Catholic/nationalist population argued that the events consolidated British colonial control in Ireland and further eroded their rights.

Articles 2 & 3: Articles of the revised 1937 Irish Free State constitution which, despite the ongoing partition of Ireland, saw the Free State government claim the entire island of Ireland as its national territory. The Articles were amended in 1998 as a consequence of the Irish Government’s signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Battle of the Bogside: On 12 August 1969, rioting broke out during the annual parade by the Apprentice Boys of Derry as it passed close to the Bogside area of Derry. This saw the nationalist residents of the Bogside man barricades for over 72 hours to prevent incursions into the area by unionists and the RUC, and the area declared as Free Derry for the second time.

Bogside: A densely-populated working-class area, built in a former marshy bogland outside the walled city of Derry, to which generations of the city’s working class Irish nationalist majority were confined for electoral reasons by the minority-unionist controlled local government in Derry.

Bloody Sunday: The killing of thirteen unarmed civilians and the wounding of eighteen others (one of whom later died) during a civil rights march in Derry on 30 January 1972. All of those killed and injured were declared innocent by a second British Government inquiry, commonly referred to as the Saville Report, in June 2010.

British Intelligence: The term used to describe the British domestic intelligence service MI5 and its foreign intelligence counterpart MI6, both of which ran agents in the North during the conflict. MI5 was regularly accused of colluding with loyalist paramilitaries to target nationalists and republicans for assassination.

British Labour Party: One of the two main political parties in Britain; it emerged from the early 20th century trade union movement.

Constitutional Convention: The Convention involved elected delegates from the SDLP, the Alliance Party and the main unionist and loyalist parties in discussions to consider future governance options for the North. It ended without agreement in 1976.

Council of Ireland: It proposed formal cooperation between the Irish government and the new power-sharing Executive in the North over areas of common policy such as tourism and agriculture. The body never met due to the collapse of the power-sharing Executive in May 1974.

Cross-Border Bodies: Agencies established under the Good Friday Agreement to facilitate cooperation between the 26-County government and the proposed new North of Ireland administration in areas of common policy concern such as tourism, economic development and agriculture.

Decommissioning: The term used by the British government to describe the handover, or verified disposal, of weapons by paramilitary groups.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): One of the two main unionist parties in the north of Ireland. Founded by the prominent hard line unionist Ian Paisley in 1971, the party remained opposed to any power-sharing with nationalists and the involvement of the 26 County government in the affairs of the North of Ireland until 2007 when it formally entered government with Sinn Féin.

Direct Rule:  In March 1972 the British government prorogued the devolved Unionist government at Stormont. ‘Direct Rule’ saw the North instead governed by ministers appointed by the ruling Westminster government and remained the case for most of the modern conflict period.

Downing Street Declaration: Published on 15 December 1993 by the British and Irish Governments, the document reiterated that the British government had no ‘selfish strategic or economic interest’ in the North and, subject to the wish of a majority of the electorate, would introduce legislation enabling a united Ireland.

Easter Rising:  A rebellion against British Rule launched by republicans in Dublin on Easter Monday 1916. Although the Rising was suppressed by British forces, the execution of its leaders led to an increase in support for further military and political campaigns to end British rule in Ireland.

The European Economic Community (EEC): Created by the Treaty of Rome in 1967, it initially aimed to develop economic integration and interdependency between its six founding members Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany as a way of avoiding further European conflicts. It later expanded its membership and remit to become the European Community and later the European Union.

European Parliament: The only directly elected institution of the EEC and of its successor the EU.

Fianna Fáil: Formed in 1926 following a split within Sinn Féin over whether to take seats in the new Irish Free State parliament. Along with its main opponent Fine Gael it dominated party politics in the 26-Counties for the remainder of the 20th century.

GAA: Founded in 1884 to promote Irish cultural identity through the Gaelic sports of hurling, Gaelic football, camogie and handball. The organisation is the largest cultural body in Ireland.

Gerrymandering: The manipulation of electoral boundaries to favour a particular political party, ideology or interest group.

Irish Government: The government of the territory officially known as the ‘Republic of Ireland’ which emerged in 1949 from the ‘Irish Free State’ that was created through the partition of Ireland in 1921. The state is made up of twenty-six of the thirty-two counties of Ireland.

Irish Republican Army (IRA): The original IRA emerged in 1917 and fought a two-year guerrilla campaign against British rule in Ireland. A majority of its members opposed the 1921 Treaty which partitioned Ireland and led to the formation of the new 26-county Irish ‘Free State’ and the ‘Northern Ireland’ state. Following a number of military campaigns against British rule in the North, the organisation split in late 1969 over whether to pursue military or purely political tactics, coupled with the concerns of many members regarding the lack of a military response to attacks on republican areas by unionists as the conflict worsened in Belfast in August of that year.

Lord Louis Mountbatten: The former Viceroy of India, Admiral of the British Royal Navy and second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Loyalist: Used to describe someone who is loyal to the British Crown. It also described paramilitary groups like the UDA and UVF which advocated the use of violence to maintain the North’s constitutional links with Britain.

Loyal Orders: The term used to describe the Orange Order, Apprentice Boys and other Protestant organisations who march annually to celebrate the various military events that occurred in Ireland during the Williamite wars (1688-91). As well as impacting on European politics, the wars resulted in the English throne remaining in Protestant hands and the further dilution of the political and economic rights of the Irish Catholic population.

Nationalist: The generic term used to describe those who hold a long-term wish for the reunification of Ireland. During the conflict the term was also often used to signify members of the population in the North who did not support the use of physical force to achieve political change.

New Ireland Forum: Established by the Irish Government in 1983, it convened parties from across the island to devise proposed solutions to the Northern conflict. The body was boycotted by the main unionist parties from the North and excluded Sinn Féin. Its three main recommendations were rejected by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

North, the: The term commonly used by Irish republicans and nationalists when referring to the ‘Northern Ireland’ state which was created following the partition of Ireland in 1920. Republicans also commonly use terms such as ‘the Six Counties’ and the ‘Twenty-Six Counties’ to describe the North and the Republic of Ireland respectively.

North-South Ministerial Council: A body established by the Good Friday Agreement which saw ministers in the power-sharing Executive and the 26-County government meet regularly to develop and implement policy in areas of common interest such as tourism, agriculture and economic development.

Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA): Formed in 1967 to protest about discrimination by local and central government in the North in areas such as the fair allocation of government housing, voting rights, the fair allocation of jobs and the special security powers held by the Stormont government.

Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA): One of the two organisations that emerged following the IRA split in 1969. Theoretically it favoured the idea of winning and taking seats in the Stormont parliament to challenge the Unionist government’s policies from within and in turn unite the nationalist and unionist working classes (who suffered much of the same social and economic problems) against the political system. In practice the organisation pursued an armed campaign until it called a ceasefire in May 1972. Those members opposed to the ceasefire would subsequently form the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1974.

Orange Order: The largest of the three main loyal orders, the Orange Order was founded on 21 September 1795 to annually celebrate the victory of King William of Orange over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.

Ian Paisley: The founder of the DUP in 1971. Regarded throughout the conflict as the main unionist leader opposed to any concessions to the nationalist population or the involvement of the 26-County government in the affairs of the North of Ireland until his acceptance of power-sharing in 2007.

Prior Assembly: A parliament for the North instigated in 1982 by British Secretary of State Jim Prior. The body was supposed to encourage growing cooperation between its nationalist and unionist elected members, which would in turn see the British government devolve more powers to it. In reality it was boycotted by both Sinn Féin and the SDLP and was ultimately dissolved in 1986.

Principle of Consent: The principle that the North would remain under British government jurisdiction until a majority of the population within the North decided otherwise.

Provisional IRA (PIRA): Formed following the IRA split in 1969 by those members who argued that republicans should continue to pursue armed campaigns against British rule and to boycott all the institutions of the British state in the North. It became the largest and most active republican armed group during the modern political conflict.

Provisional Sinn Féin: Within weeks of the IRA splitting in late 1969, Sinn Féin also split over similar issues leading to the formation of Provisional Sinn Féin. Whilst it acted as a support group for the Provisional IRA in the early years of the conflict, it became involved in electoral campaigns from 1982 onwards.

Republican: In an Irish context, the term is used to describe those who seek the withdrawal of the British government from the North and the establishment of an independent all-Ireland republic. During the modern conflict, the term was also commonly ascribed to those who advocated the use of military tactics to achieve this goal.

Republican Movement: Umbrella term used to describe Sinn Féin, the IRA and a number of smaller associated groups.

Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC): The police force for the North formed in 1922 as a consequence of the partition of Ireland. Mainly recruited from the unionist community, nationalists and republicans consistently argued that the organisation lacked impartiality and accused it of sustained human rights abuses. It was replaced by the PSNI in November 2001 as part of policing reforms initiated by the Good Friday Agreement.

RUC Special Branch: The section of the RUC tasked with subverting both republican and loyalist armed groups during the conflict. It was regularly accused of torturing suspects and of collusion with loyalist paramilitaries in the targeting of nationalists and republicans.

Special Air Service (SAS): A British army special forces unit which operated undercover in the North during the conflict. It was involved in numerous ‘Shoot to Kill’ incidents where IRA and INLA members, as well as civilians, were shot dead without being given the opportunity to surrender.

Secretary of State: When the British Government closed the devolved Stormont parliament in March 1972 it created the new ‘Northern Ireland Office (NIO)’ to administer direct rule. The Secretary of State became the lead minister within the NIO.

Self Determination: The principle that people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference from external powers.

Sinn Féin: Founded in 1905, it initially supported the proposal that Ireland should have a devolved parliament under a dual British/Irish monarchy. After the 1916 Easter Rising, its position changed to supporting the establishment of an Irish republic. When the party won seats in 73 of the 101 Irish constituencies in the 1918 Westminster General Election, its successful candidates subsequently established a new Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann) which legislated without reference to the British government. It split in January 1922 over whether to accept the Anglo-Irish Treaty (signed between republican negotiators and the British government in December 1921) which included a new requirement for Dáil members (who would now only govern 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland) to take an oath of allegiance to the British monarch to allow them to take their seats in parliament. This saw Sinn Féin members abstain from the Dáil chamber. Over the next fifty years the party maintained its associations with the IRA. It split in 1970 over policy issues and the party’s approach to the escalating conflict in the North of Ireland.

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): Nationalist political party founded in the North in 1970 by a group of nationalist and socialist elected representatives to pursue political reform and Irish unity through peaceful means.

St Andrews Agreement: Negotiated between the two governments and the main political parties in the North to allow the restoration of power-sharing on the proviso that Sinn Féin agreed to support policing, the DUP agreed to sit in a restored power-sharing Executive with Sinn Féin, and the British government devolved policing and justice powers to the Assembly.

Stormont: The large estate in east Belfast where the Ulster Unionist Party-controlled devolved parliament and government for the North was based between 1932 and 1972. The same buildings have been subsequently used to house the power-sharing Assembly established through the Good Friday Agreement.

Ulster Defence Association (UDA): The largest of the loyalist paramilitary groups. Formed in 1971 but not proscribed until 1992, it used the cover name of Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) to claim hundreds of killings of nationalists and republicans during the conflict. It declared a ceasefire in 1994, but still exists.

Ulster-Scots dialect: Dialect of the Scots language that is spoken in various areas of the North.

Ulster Unionist Party: Established in 1905, it ruled the North from June 1921 until the closure of the Stormont parliament in March 1972. It remains an active political party to this day.

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF): The second largest of the loyalist paramilitary groups. The modern UVF was formed in 1965 and was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of nationalists and republicans during the conflict. It declared a ceasefire in 1994, but still exists.

Ulster Workers Council: Loyalist umbrella organisation formed to oppose the outworkings of the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement. Its membership included loyalist trade union leaders, representatives of the UDA and UVF and leading unionist politicians.

Unionist: Term used to describe those who support the North of Ireland remaining within the ‘United Kingdom’.

Universal Suffrage: The right for all citizens of a jurisdiction to be able to vote in elections.

Volunteers: Term used to describe members of the IRA and other armed republican organisations.

Westminster: The seat of the British parliament in London.